Thursday, August 5, 2010

"The Dog Star stood beneath the Judgment Seats and raged."

Dogsbody is one of those books that I was irrationally prejudiced against.  "A dog's point of view?  I don't like books like that."  But I should have trusted Diana Wynne Jones to make the best possible iteration of that plot line and to produce yet another book that I loved.

Sirius, the Dog Star, is punished for a crime he didn't commit by being banished to Earth and being reborn as a dog.  His only hope of returning to his former glory is to find a power source that has also been lost on Earth.  His trip almost ends prematurely when he is tossed in a sack with the rest of his litter and dropped in the river.  Luckily, the Sun and Earth step in to save his life and his is rescued by young Kathleen.  But Kathleen's life isn't easy either and perhaps Sirius will be the one to save her as well.

This was a much more complicated story than I thought it would be.  There are discussions of identity, racial tolerance and human/animal nature.  I was actually surprised by some of the issues that were presented--even briefly--like English/Irish tensions and IRA violence.  Still, this novel was touching and smart and sweet.  I was wrong to avoid this book and I can see why it is such a favorite for other readers.

Having faith that nature will out,

Support our site and buy Dogsbody on Amazon or find it at your local library.  We bought our own copy.


  1. I steered clear of Dogsbody for ages because of the dog narrator. I thought it would be sweety-sweet, which couldn't have been further from the truth. Of course I should have known better!

  2. It sounds like a neat combination of story lines.

  3. I am not a fan of dogs, and I loved Sirius. He is an atypical dog narrator. I particularly liked the way he struggled to hold his priorities in mind while he had dog-nature, and yet on some level his (I was going to say humanity, but that's not accurate) "highly intelligent being-hood" came through without him realizing it, in the way he was different from other dogs. Great book. I have read it aloud to people twice now.

  4. This is my favorite DWJ, probably because it was my first. I reread it many, many times as a child since it was the only DWJ I could find. But it has really stood up -- I recently gave a copy to my own daughter and we both read it and loved it. A great book.

  5. Jenny - I really didn't plan on reading it but then there was a cheap, perfect used copy and I couldn't resist. I'm SO glad I read it!

    Jenners - It really was unique in the way it addressed some pretty heavy topics.

    Villa - I was a little worried at the start because it starts in a very "doggie" way but then when he realizes his nature, it's fantastic. This one would definitely be a good starting point for some new to DWJ readers.

    Karen - I could see this being a treasured one. I didn't think it seemed dated at all (except maybe for the pottery) even though it came out in the year I was born - 1975!